Mayor, Police Chief Hail Cut in Murder Rate

You're living in a safer place, Houstonians. Mayor Annise Parker and police chief Charles McClelland say so.

Both officials touted a drop in the murder rate today, saying homicide in the city is lower than it's been in 40 years.

HPD says there were 198 murders in 2011 according to preliminary estimates (Note: Our Bayou Body Count numbers can differ because we include intoxication manslaughter, and sometimes incidents are labeled homicide long after the fact.)

That's the lowest number since 1965 and the lowest per capita rate in the city's history. In 2006, there were 377 homicides.

"Crime is down across the board and we are going to work to make sure it stays down," Parker said. "Public safety has been a pillar of my administration and it will remain so in my second term of office. I understand the importance of a safe city to our quality of life. I am proud of the job of our men and women in blue and proud that, despite the worst economy in decades, we have avoided having to follow the lead of other cities in laying off police and firefighters."

"One murder is still too many, let alone 198," McClelland said. "While we are pleased that 2011 finished up in this fashion, we want to continue to build on our successes."

The city said the reasons for the decline include

the fact that HPD has one of the best trained and prepared patrol forces in the nation and a 24-Hour Real Time Crime Center, which tracks crime in a real-time capacity and updates information every six hours. In addition, the Crime Reduction Unit (CRU), a large field force deployed to identified "hot spot" areas, has been successful in disrupting criminal activity.

The Investigative First Responder Division (IFR), created about two years ago, has also been a possible key factor in this historic decline. IFR is largely responsible for aggressively investigating crimes right after they occur. The clearance rate for homicide investigations has held at a consistent 90% rate for the last two years, which is one of the highest in the nation.

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